Keeping the Issues Separate

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Europeans say no to the invasion, but still yes to missiles

Sweeping down from low, dark clouds, the giant U.S. Air Force Galaxy transport rumbled to a landing at Greenham Common air-base in Britain. It was bearing a historic and controversial cargo: the first cruise missile launchers (minus as yet their nuclear warheads and missiles) to arrive in Western Europe under NATO'S 1979 "two track" decision. That policy asserted that NATO would begin modernizing the alliance's nuclear armory by the end of this year if the U.S. and the Soviet Union do not reach an agreement to curb intermediate-range nuclear weapons. For a moment after the plane cut its jet engines, there was a stunned silence among about 100 female peace demonstrators from the camp set up outside the base for 26 months to protest the new U.S. weapons. Then came screams as the women pounded the base's perimeter fence with their fists in outraged frustration. Several groups linked arms and wept. Cried one anguished demonstrator: "It's here, it's bloody well here."

It was a long way from the Caribbean, but the impact of the invasion of Grenada was still reverberating among U.S. allies. With various shades of reprobation, every major West European capital continued to express disapproval of Washington's resort to military might. Bat in an unspoken consensus, there appeared to be a determination to prevent differences over U.S. policy in the Caribbean from spilling into the Atlantic Alliance's crucial and most immediate challenge: persuading a dubious public, particularly in West Germany, to accept the new U.S.-controlled nuclear weapons on their soil. The invasion did not make that task any easier. It came, said a West German Foreign Ministry official, "at exactly the time when we have to convince the public that the U.S. is serious in its attempts to pursue nonmilitary solutions to international problems."

The arrival of the first cruise launchers was symbolic of the West European effort to keep the two issues separate. Although the West German government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl maintained its formal opposition to the invasion, Kohl last week expressed "understanding" for the U.S. move. West German Government Spokesman Jürgen Sudhoff explained that "additional elements," such as the discovery of armed Cuban construction workers and the Grenadian Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon's plea for help, had cast new light on the events.

Similarly, French President null Mitterrand had quickly and dryly criticized the U.S. action, but in private French officials were taking a more detached view. Said one: "If the Americans withdraw quickly and set up some truly democratic institutions, Grenada could fade mercifully into the political background within a month." Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi made it clear that the invasion of Grenada would not affect Italy's commitment to the NATO decision.

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